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We regularly assess the human rights situation in China and Tibet. I have invited the Foreign Affairs Committee to meet me to discuss our work on Tibet in more detail. We welcome recent progress on human rights in China, including on the death penalty. However, we retain serious concerns about a number of areas, including the non-ratification of the international covenant for civil and political rights. My first meeting with the incoming Chinese ambassador will include those issues, as well has how to take forward the UK-China human rights dialogue.
I am grateful to hear that, because the Minister knows that China, as the occupying power in Tibet, continues to show a blatant disregard for the human rights of Tibetans, not least with the recent shooting in the back of innocent refugees who were attempting to flee across the Himalayas and the detention and torture of those who survived. With the Olympic games shortly upon us in Beijing, will the Minister hold the Chinese firmly to their word and ensure that there is uninterrupted and unrestricted access by journalists to Tibet? Will he press for the early release of the Panchen Lama, who was six when he was taken prisoner and is 18 next month and is the longest-serving, youngest political prisoner in the world?
I will take all three questions. First, we are committed to working for the Panchen Lama's well-being and for access to him—we have been extremely active on that. Secondly, I take a stronger view on access during the Olympic games. We welcome the fact that access will be opened up during the Olympic games and hope that that will be a Pandora's box and that access will be maintained after the games. We had an active conversation on
Some of the worst human rights abuses in China take place against women as part of the country's coercive one-child policy. As many as 130,000 women a year undergo forcible abortions, sometime days before birth, or are compulsorily sterilised. Will the Minister look into the case of Chen Guang Cheng, a blind human rights activist who has been given a long jail sentence for the alleged crime of trying to represent some of the women in such circumstances? Will he read my early-day motion 586, which has garnered widespread support across the House, and reply to me about the issues that it raises?
I am happy not only to read the early-day motion, but to meet my hon. Friend and any of his colleagues to discuss the issue. At the human rights dialogue that we recently held with the Chinese, we raised a substantial number of individual cases that we were pursuing. I cannot remember off hand whether the case to which my hon. Friend refers was one of them, but if it was not, I assure him that I will add it to the list for the discussions that I will have with the Chinese to follow up such cases.